How To Get A Book Deal in Ten Years or Less

So, a couple months ago I used YouTube’s
post feature to announce by way of a screen cap because it had to be a screen
cap because the announcement was behind a paywall
that I sold a novel to commercial fiction publisher St. Martin’s Press. Axiom’s End, a Stranger Things meets Arrival story set in an alternate 2000s
about a young woman who becomes the sole point of communication between humanity
and a hostile alien civilization. Okay and so for you smart asses who are
bagging on this, I did not write this. I honestly don’t know where they got
Stranger Things. Doesn’t take place in the 80s. It’s not even like you know
magical metaphysical stuff. Is it on brand? Yes. Is it too long? Probably.
Can I preorder it? Actually, you can. They got right on the ball. And I know what you’re
thinking, like oh another one of those you know, here I have been slaving away
at the Great American Novel for decades and another one of these youtubers just
has a book deal like foisted upon them. The influencers sit recumbent on the
chaise lounge and receive the offers. When, in reality, I have been working at this
for 10 f—ing years. Oh no, I don’t mean literally the same book for 10 years. It did not take
me ten years to write this–well, sort of. Anyway, we’ll get to that. And the truth
is yes, it is a lot easier for some people with bigger platforms to get book
deals than others, but that also depends on the type of book that they are
writing. In the case of youtubers and influencers, what publishers usually want
is like, you know: my life as a girl boss the book. Or: Hi I’m an Instagram model
the book. But I was like no, I like suffering.
I want to write novels. Better yet, of the science fiction variety. You know, the
science fiction. That…that biggest piece of the publishing pie.
Everybody loves it’s so in demand. It’s not. So, today I’m doing something a little
different in discussing how does one actually go about publishing a novel?
I’m going to demystify the process. Cause I know a lot of people that
subscribe to this channel are either creatives or aspiring creatives
themselves. You need to know what holy hell you’re getting into and decide… Can
I handle that many rejection letters? So how it works. If it’s your first time,
fiction and nonfiction are handled generally quite differently. Nonfiction
is generally sold on Proposal, meaning there will be between one and three
chapters of the book written, and also you’ll have like a bio and then like
some stuff about your platform and an outline of the book and you know a
section saying why I am the expert that should be writing this book. And with fiction, again for debut authors that aren’t famous, it needs to be done. The
book needs to be 100% written. Debut novels are very very rarely sold on
proposal. Outliers to the point of should not be counted. Yes, I know it happens but
it doesn’t happen very often. I mean a debut novel might be sold on proposal if
it’s by like a celebrity or you know it’s like a YA Adventure about like
beating the system written by a youtuber with more than ten million subs,
but you know, if that’s the case, they’re probably
hiring a ghostwriter anyway. I am obsessed with this shirt I got by the
by at the Pantages the other day. The CATS trailer has sent me spiraling into a
severe Andrew Lloyd Webber relapse this fall. Anyway, yes there are famous people
exceptions but in general debut novels are not sold on proposal. It needs to be
done. And by done I mean it needs to be edited it needs to be polished it needs
to have gone through several drafts and by the time you think you are ready to
go, you are wrong. Put that thing back in the drawer take it around the block a
few more times it still needs work. Trust me. You have to be able to look at this thing
and go, yes, I could see this going to print tomorrow. This is the level that
we’re at. The thing about writing especially something as, like, sprawling
as a novel, is that writers are actually not very good at judging the merits of
their own work. Shock, I know. When the truth is nine times out of ten, authors
think they are ready to go before they are ready to go. I know I was. We’ll get to that.
But now that you have written the thing, it is time for step two: Get a
literary agent. Arguably, the hardest step because this is the part in which the
odds are least in your favor. So you’ve submitted your query. You are now
in the slush pile, which is a very uncharitable name for unsolicited material because
most of it is detritus. Yes, there was a time when authors submitted
directly to publishers and they did not need a literary agent. We call those
times the 1970s. Yes there are some exceptions, but for your purposes, if
you want to get published with a major publisher and most small presses and a
huge chunk of indie presses too, you need a literary agent. They won’t even look at
you if you don’t have one. And while we are here, no you do not pay your literary
agent before you sell your book. They take a cut after they sell your book. If
there is an “agent” saying that you need to pay them upfront, they’re not an agent.
They’re lying. It’s a scam. Run away. So what does a literary agent do? Are they
anything other than a glorified filter that exists to separate the rabble from
the publisher so the publisher doesn’t have to waste their precious time and
resources anymore? Well… See, here’s the thing. You are a special flower, an
artiste floating along on the winds of inspiration. You don’t understand
contracts. The publishing industry is labyrinthine and complicated and it has
a culture that you do not understand. I know I don’t. On top of that, contracts have gotten a
lot more complicated since the 1970s Mine, for instance, was pretty
boilerplate and it still took two months between selling the book and signing the
thing. And that was pretty quick turnaround. On top of that, agents also negotiate
royalty rates and advances for you and also advise on what you should ask for
in your contract because they know what is standard and what is reasonable to
ask for and you don’t. But there is a creative element too. A lot of literary
agents will actually do a pass, do some edits with you before you actually go on
submission to publishers. They also act as sort of a go-between between you and
the publisher. You know, so they can like soak up the emotions if you have too
many. Cause it turns out you’re not supposed to yell at your publisher. They ask you how are you just have to say that you’re fine but you’re not really fine
you just can’t get into it because they would never So why are the odds not in
your favor at this stage? Well, it’s because of volume. It’s hard to find
exact stats on this. How many submissions any given literary agent gets per day. My
agent gets between 15 and 20 per day. So depending on the size of the agency, a
literary agent is going to get anywhere from several hundred to several thousand
queries per year. And depending on how much they are trying to build their list,
they may only take on a half a dozen or less. So I’m not saying you have less
than one in a thousand odds for your basic midlist literary agent. Actually, I am saying that. That brings us to step two point five, the query letter Okay so if you’re a novelist, you’re probably not very good at being concise, but the query
letter is basically a two paragraph, less than 250 word pitch. It’s basically the
copy you would read on the back of the book. It is designed to make the person
reading it be like, “Oh yeah, I want to throw down my $27.95 MSRP for that.”
It’s not a summary. You should not summarize. It is a pitch.
And it’s actually really hard to do well. A bard, a mage, and a rogue meet in a tavern
and then they hear of a quest. There’s a business centaur that owns a company and
he’s just he’s living his life until one day a plucky young virgin becomes his
secretary or something. And then, oh the pa– Yeah see I’m really good at this. So each literary agency
operates differently, but in general, the steps will be: query letter leads to
partial request, which means part of your manuscript, like first five chapters
or something. They like that, then they’ll ask for the whole manuscript. And if they
like that, then they will offer you representation. Generally, this process
will be protracted over several months unless you’re just that amazing.
Sometimes it can be really fast, but usually it’s not. Wow, you have an agent now!
Good for her. Hopefully your agent will help you out
on the creative front too because presumably they took on your project not
just because they thought they could sell it, but you know, because they like it.
And the level to which they will help you before you go on submission
to publishers varies a lot. Like it could be just like an email with like
hey maybe you should like brush this up or like you know, you use the word
basically too much. Or they could do like an entire line edit through your
manuscript. Depends on the agent. Next stop, book deal? Well, not so fast.
First we got to talk about who we are submitting to. Generally, an agent will
want to start with big five publishers because they are the ones with the money
and they are the ones with the best marketing and the widest distribution.
So what do I mean when I say Big Five? Well, basically they’re the biggest five but
also they are umbrella corporations effectively for many many many publishers.
The big five are Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, Hatchette, Macmillan, which is mine, and Harper Collins.
The way it works is at the top, we have the publishing house then
you have the publisher, then you have the imprint. And the imprint is where the
editor works. They are the one that’s specialized in whatever it is you are
trying to sell. For instance, my imprint is St. Martin’s Press, which is an
imprint of St. Martin’s Press, which is owned by Macmillan. Imprints specialize
in different things, so for instance you’ll have Tor Forge, which specializes
in sci-fi/fantasy. Love Swept will be HarperCollins… Is it HarperCollins?
No, it’s Random House. Well, anyway, it’s a romance imprint. St. Martin’s Press specializes in “commercial
fiction” which obviously can mean genre fiction, but you know a certain type.
Let’s just say I was rejected from more than one genre imprint for “not being
sci-fi enough.” It’s Arrival meets So Big Five publishers are
desirable not just because they are able to pay advances sometimes very big ones,
but also because they have much wider distribution. Generally, you’ll go on a
round of submission. You’ll see how that goes. Maybe it’ll sell on the first round, but if it doesn’t you probably want to do some
revisions before you go on round two. And then when you go on round two and it
doesn’t sell then, then maybe you want to start seriously considering smaller
presses or indie presses or self-publishing or trunking it.
And we’ll get to that. Okay, so let’s say you are on submission.
If there is more than one offer, then it goes to auction. And auctions are great.
They make you feel really popular but most of the time for debut authors
especially if they don’t have a big platform, this process will be protracted
over a period of several months. So while on the one hand there are an
ever-increasing number of options to get your book out there, traditional
publishing is actually more competitive than it has ever ever been. Yeah.
Especially for fiction. And that leads us to my monstrosity. Ten years, huh? “Ten years old!” That seems like…. sad. There is this expectation when you work in a new media
that people think that you’re gonna be like, you know what? I’m bucking the
system! Screw you gatekeepers. I got a do me! But no, no that is not what I wanted to do. So this is a story about traditional
publishing and rejection and all sorts of fun things. And why I never talked
about it till now. So let’s get this out of the way first.
There’s this sort of wrongish idea I see floating around that if you
have a platform of, you know, decently sized,
then you’re pretty much guaranteed a book deal. And no, wow, you know,
that’s not true. And I will find that people that even work in the industry
are surprised that like my platform didn’t get me something much sooner.
Which inevitably leads to these dipshits on reddit surmising that like well if
you can’t get a book deal despite those YouTube subs, well… woof. Which just kind of
reveals that these people don’t know how anything works. And that’s fine.
That’s why I’m here. Fundamentally, quality is secondary to where the market
is and what they think they can sell. Especially for fiction, a thing no one
should write. Okay so what did I mean by that? When I said this whole big nonsense
thing took ten years, what I mean is it was about ten years between my conscious
decision of yes I am going to pursue this thing–by this thing I mean
traditional publishing with a big five publisher–and it actually happening. Was the novel I sold the first novel I wrote? No. I’d argue that it
wasn’t even the second, but it was also kind of the first. It was the
first and–well anyway… So I joke a lot about fanfic, but the truth is fanfic is
actually really good practice and a good way to decide if that is something that
you want to pursue. And I joke about it a lot especially with the Phantom stuff,
but the truth is I was not terribly prolific until I was in college because
I had this narrative about myself that you know, I just don’t finish things… I’m
just–I just I don’t have the attention span. Too bad for me. I guess
I’m just gonna work in data collection for the rest of my life because I’m 22
and I don’t know anything. But then, thanks to the wonderful world of
fanfiction, I actually did start finishing some stuff. You know, it wasn’t
good, but I finished it. So again this was around the time that the you know
economy crashed and I went to grad school. So going into film and television
of course that’s where we’re going to start making serious attempts. Haha.
Because after all, there was no way in hell I was going to go into a creative
writing MFA on the strength of a few over-long fanfics. No. Going into debt
one of the most expensive film schools in the world during the worst recession
and living memory is a much better idea. But yeah, we’re at film school, it’s 2009,
part of the curriculum is let’s come up with some story ideas. There’s a class
called ideation. Oh, we had fun. So the first non-fanfic thing I wrote was this sad-sack attempt
at a Christian romance novel because I knew someone who worked at the Harlequin
imprint for Christian romance called Love Inspired, and this imprint was one
of the only imprints that was taking unagented authors, and I in my
infinite hubris was like, “Anyone can do that!” At least I got some practice in.
I did also write a full-length screenplay while I was at USC for a class, and no, it
will never see the light of day because it was quite bad. But then, I got an idea
in 2010 that was rooted in some items that were in the news at the time. Well,
how about that but with aliens? But no I did not start writing it then.
That did not happen until 2013, and I wrote the first draft in two months. It
was one Twilight long, because I measure everything in units of Twilight. This is
a Twilight. This book actually has really big print. It’s not that–it’s not that long.
That first draft was described by one person that I no longer speak to at the
time as “publishable,” which is probably a little bit of a red flag when the people
in your life don’t really have the heart to tell you that your word baby is a bit
of a yike. But I, in my infinite arrogance was like we’re off to the races.
I very wrongly assumed that my platform, which was much smaller than it is now,
would make me a catch. So even if the book wasn’t all that great, and sure as
hell was not ready, it didn’t matter. They’d help me fix it. I’ve got twenty
thousand Twitter followers. I think I might have done like one very minor
revision before I sent it to … like not very many agents I only think… I
only send it to a few, and one of whom I knew personally. Five thousand words to
very nicely say yikes. Which was good, because it finally
brought me down to reality and realize that like oh, actually maybe we should
take this a little more seriously. So I spent a few months on revisions and now
armed with, you know, a little bit of perspective, we tried round two. This time
I actually queried pretty widely. I got interest from about 30% of the agents I
queried, and then actually it happened rather
quickly. I got an offer of representation after about two, three months. And then I
had an agent. We did it. I hopped the hardest hurdle, right? So, what now? Well, we
revise it again. Substantially before we Go on submission. Submission round one.
Mostly big five and a couple of smaller publishers like Quirk Books. Generally a
round of submission will be between maybe 10 and 15 editors. And wow, that was
a lot of rejection. Like I got rejected so hard I don’t think I got like a
detailed rejection letter from anyone. And that whole rigmarole from start to
final “no thank” was about four months. So yeah. So what now? Well, we revise again.
Let’s try to figure out what was wrong. Another round of submissions. This time,
it was I think a few more, maybe fifteen. And this time, well, I got one or two
rejections that were quite detailed. See? Progress. One or two felt it wasn’t
“commercial enough.” The guy at HarperCollins thought I was “whip smart.”
But most people just “didn’t connect with the voice,” which is of course industry
speak for “I think you’re a shitty writer.” And here we are at the end of
2014. Two years of work and nothing to show for it. What now? You can go
downstream to smaller presses, which you know, might give you less money up front
but will still distribute as widely as any of the larger ones. Or you can go
indie or you can self publish. I mean that kind of makes sense. If you have a
platform already, self-publishing does mean you get to keep a much bigger cut
of the money that comes in for you. But there is a third option. We got us a
trunk novel. The trunk novel! Everyone has one. They don’t. So yeah. I could have self-published.
Even now, I get a lot of people asking me why I didn’t, because like, you know,
hey, there’s no shame in it. And also you’d make a lot more money with your
platform. And well, okay, first of all, I don’t know about that. I’m gonna I’m
gonna have to disagree with you there, part– And secondly I did not want to
self-publish. Like I self publish right here. Like this is what I’m doing.
That’s what YouTube is. All I do is self publish. But ultimately, the reason that I
trunked it was because I felt that the reason it wasn’t selling wasn’t
because the market was necessarily hostile to that sort of thing (which it
totally was), but because it wasn’t ready. And by extension, I was not ready. I had
not put in the work. I had not done the hours. And there are many people who
would call this flawed thinking. After all, publishing is very fickle, and they
always play it safe, and most of the time whenever you get a no from an agent or
publisher, it isn’t because they don’t like it, it’s because they don’t think
they can sell it. They don’t think it will move copies. Yeah, after my book
comes out we will…we can talk about the… the why it was a hard sell.
But the TLDR is it doesn’t really fit with any kind of publishing trends right
now. That’s it. That was actually simple. But at the end of the day, in my heart of
hearts, I knew trunk novel had major problems. Like you know, there were
definitely some contrivances. Some of it was really half-assed. It read like a
debut novel, which it was. So I put the book away. The book has been trunked.
Time to move on. Round 2. 2015/2016 we have moved on
completely. I get an idea for a new novel. Wholly unrelated to the first one. Same
genre. It doesn’t have aliens in it. I very naively thought that this one would
be more commercial despite the fact that it was still genre fiction, a thing
that no one should ever write. I very naively gave it the working title
“Commercial as F—” because I thought it would be. So I broke up with the first
literary agent. No hard feelings. Because surely I will have no problem
getting a literary agent that is more I don’t know… suited to what I’m going for.
I’m me. Huh. Looks like the lighting and setup has
slightly changed. It’s not totally because I filmed this on a different day. I still have two copies of John Scalzi’s The Consuming Fire, though. This one says happy birthday.
So I start writing “Commercial as F—” over late 2016 early
2017, and then I start querying “Commercial as F—” around mid 2017, and this one gets even less interest than the last time F—- really? This is supposed to be
commercial as f—! So yeah. I got a bunch of partial requests and a bunch of full
requests, but ultimately no offers. Asterisk. And a lot of the times it would
get rejected for reasons that would be like totally fixable. Like you know,
location or something. And it would be like oh well, I could revise that… okay.
And while we are here, the truth is these days, if your book needs a lot of
revision, or even not that much revision, agents probably aren’t going to be
interested in walking you through it. Although it does depend on the agent.
Your mileage may vary. But I did find one agent that was willing to work with it
and was really interested in fixing it. You know, “like the characters, like the
premise, but the ending is a little too bleak.” And I’m like, look it’s 2017. My
heroes are dead and my enemies are in power. What do you want? But point taken.
So she is willing to talk representation if I am able to revise the thing in a
way that she thinks can sell. But the problem is, I don’t really know how I
want to revise it. This is just where I’m at. So despite the extensive feedback
that this agent gives me, I sit on this thing for many months not quite knowing
how to fix it. But it is at this point in early 2018, a full three years after our
trunk novel has been trunked, that I go ahead and dig that one out ,maybe
thinking that will inspire me. And it is at this point that I remember what
interested me so much in that story in the first place. But it is also at this
point that the problems that had been plaguing the thing basically since its
inception become wildly obvious to me. Why is it so expository in the first
five chapters? Why is the entire third act like that? Why did I not do a
motivation better? And so trunk novel is where my inspiration goes not, “Commercial
as F—” So I start working on that instead. And what was supposed to be a
fairly modest rewrite with the intention of I guess, you know, getting the creative
juices flowing for the other one, ends up being like a complete overhaul. And by
the end of this rewrite, I have deleted about 60,000 words and written another
70,000. And so by the time I’m done with this (and this would have been about a
month after the Hobbit videos came out) I was like, hey look, a thing. I guess I have
two projects again. Sort of. And as far as I can see, trunk novel is the more
polished of the two, so why don’t we just tepidly see if there’s any interest
there. So once again, I very tepidly send out like, I don’t know, maybe ten query
letters and–No’s across the board. Okay, fine. This is clearly not meant to be.
Fine. And the flavors of the “no” are pretty much all variations on “Mmm I
don’t think I can sell that.” But here’s the thing, that revision actually did do
the thing it was intended to do, and it helps me figure out how I wanted to fix
the “bleak ending” of “Commercial as F—” So you know what? Working on trunk novel
wasn’t a total wash. So I’m working on that, and then I get an email from this
agent, telling me that she is leaving the agenting industry. Jesus Christ. All right, fine. Fine. I give
up. I give up. The end. Oh wait no, this is about like triumph or something.
Never give up. Except for I totally gave up. And this is where my #privilege comes in.
So it was almost around this exact time that this rando
in Brooklyn emails me like, “Hey, I’m a literary agent. Do you have one?”
And this was not the only thing that was going on in my life.
Like, if you watch the talk I did for XOXO 2019, which is on their YouTube
channel, this was around that time. So you know, my heroes are dead. My enemies are
in power. Not a great time. So he askes me if I have anything that I’d be willing
to share and I’m like, okay, which one do you want? Do you want “Commercial as F—”
or do you want trunk novel? And he says whichever one is more done. So trunk
novel it is. So basically, in very short order, he does pinpoint the issue with
why agents thought that they could not sell this. And one of these days, I might
talk about the issue, and no it wasn’t about like problematic content or gender
or anything. But it was very small and ultimately very fixable.
It was kind of on the level of like, hey, this takes place in Santa Monica. What if
it took place in San Diego instead? We’ll talk about it one day. So this dude (his
name is Christopher Hermelin, and he is part of a boutique agency in Brooklyn) he
signs me up. We do a round or two of revisions, and then we go on submission
the first week of January. That was on a Monday. I get my first phone call from an
editor on a Friday, and then after talking to a few more, ultimately it’s
sold in less than two weeks. Yep. Okay so, ultimately we come again full circle
with that question of why is my thing not selling? What is wrong with my
manuscript? Is it my manuscript that’s the problem or the market? And in my case,
it’s a little difficult to answer since I ultimately did sell to a commercial
imprint, and the book itself doesn’t really fall in line with any publishing
trends right now. So it does kind of remain to be seen just how much (if at
all) St. Martin’s gamble will pay off. Because that is kind of the reason that
agents are so bearish and they want things that are comparable to things
that I’ve already sold well. This, for the record, was mine.
Thank you, thank you for debuting at number one.
Readers are creatures of habit. They want things that are like the thing that
they’ve already read. So if I’m to come to a publisher with this book and
they’re like, “Okay, what is it about?” And I’m like, “I don’t know, it’s Independence
Day meets The Big Short. Mary Doria Russell’s Invader Zim?” I guess it’s kind of
fair for them to be like, “I don’t really care if it’s any good or not, I don’t
know if I could sell that.” The point here being is that it is honestly really
difficult to tell where the line in the sand is. Your work is not good enough and
the publisher/agent doesn’t think there is a market for it. So in conclusion, something something follow your dreams. I think it would have been
just as easy for me to be like, yeah I wrote a thing and it’s out now. And then
not, you know, cop to the ten years of… I guess failure is a strong word–struggle. And
then people will be like, “Wow! I guess you just magically did it on the first try!”
when in reality–no. Because it doesn’t do anyone any favors to act like even in a
position like mine, where I have a relatively large online platform, I
didn’t have to put in the work and go through a lot of rejection. But here is
what I have learned from the thing. Learning to write, learning to be a
novelist, and the publishing industry in general is incredibly incredibly slow-
going. So you have to be incredibly patient. And looking back, the best choice
I made in the whole thing was choosing to trunk that novel in 2014. So the fact
that I was able to get in another five years of writing experience actually
helped the thing get to a level where it could sell to a major publisher and
hopefully will be, you know, not hated by a plurality of you. So in some ways, I
think fiction is more difficult to publish than nonfiction because it’s
harder to really gauge demand for. But that is not to say that nonfiction is
easier. It’s just different. But a lot of people’s success really is owed to luck
and timing. These people that you hear of that get these like debut novels with
six-figure advances, and you know, they tend to be YA…
they hit at the right point in the right genre, but they also tend to be
outliers. For instance, if you were querying a YA dystopia in 2009, you’re
probably going to get different results from querying the same book in 2019.
Few years ago, author Jim C. Heinz did a survey of traditionally-published
authors to see how long it actually took them to get published, and the average
length of time was…drumroll…11 years. So what does that mean for this channel?
Is this going to turn into this shameless self-promotion channel?
Well no, not yet. I mean in six months it will. But I do imagine that this has shed some light on why
this channel hasn’t been as prolific as it has been in years past. And one more
thing with regard to pre-orders–and this applies to pretty much all traditionally-
published authors–is if you want to support an author, and you plan on buying
the book anyway, pre-orders are a great way to do that because it helps the
publisher decide where they are going to end up, you know, spending their resources.
Who gets the marketing, who gets to go on a book tour. Pre-orders are basically
their barometer to, you know, who gives a shit. So if you want to pre-order American
Three-body Problem for Girls, the link is in the description. It is available in
hardcover and Kindle right now. I guess the paperback will be like, I don’t know,
six months or a year after that. And yeah, this won’t be the last video of this
kind. I will probably be doing a lot more process/publishing industry-type
stuff in the months and years to come. Although yes, don’t worry, we will still
be doing traditional video essay type stuff too. So yeah, I know
everybody can’t wait for this youtuber book. This should be…this should be an
interesting journey that we can all go on together. Hope this was some help and
if it wasn’t, well, hope at least it was entertaining to watch. This is gonna be a long year.
Happy end of the decade everybody!


  1. Ionasku Alexander said:

    another one of those YouTubers that wrote a book 😫😫😫

    December 8, 2019
  2. Alex Christian said:

    "It's in [bookstores] now! Coming this summer: Two brothers. In a van. And then a meteor hit. And they ran as fast as they could, from giant cat monsters. And then a giant tornado came and that's when things got knocked into 12th gear.
    A Mexican armada shows up. With weapons made from Two-tomatoes. And you better bet your bottom dollar that these two brothers know how to handle business. In: Alien Invasion Tomato Monster Mexican Armada Brothers, Who Are Just Regular Brothers, Running In a van from an Asteroid and All Sorts of Things THE MOVIE! Hold on, there's more! Old women are coming, and they're also in the movie, and they're gonna come, and cross attack these two brothers. But let's get back to the brothers, because they're- they have a strong bond. You don't want to know about it here, but I'll tell you one thing: The moon it comes crashing into Earth. And what do you do then? It's two brothers and–and th-they're It's called Two brothers. Two brothers! It's just called Two Brothers."

    December 9, 2019
  3. Candelantern said:

    Thanks for the validation that it’s ok to work on a book for 10 years lmao
    I have hope

    December 9, 2019
  4. Katelyn Kivel said:

    I write short series mostly and am in a few author groups and actually ten years isn't too bad? Maybe on the quicker side of normal? For me it's going a lot slower because getting stuck in the short story realm, while looked down on by quite a few, is solid practice and pays the bills a tiny bit better.

    December 9, 2019
  5. Nicita Greeneye said:

    Just checked out your book on amazon and the description is super spoilery- like probably 1/3 of the book summarised. Don't know who wrote that, but it might be worth trying to get it changed!

    December 9, 2019
  6. Jonataan said:

    It feels wrong to call it a "Youtuber-book" simply based on the topic it tackles. Is it a story about you and your career online in the Youtube-o-sphere? No? Well, then it certainly ain't a Youtuber-book.

    December 9, 2019
  7. William Alewine said:

    Infinite Jest sitting next to the Twilight series? Variety is quite the spice

    December 9, 2019
  8. comediaace said:

    I can't believe it took 30min to ultimately land in "and then I got an agent the same way most people with a big platform do".
    So. As someone who's done the author hustle for 10+ years, I gotta comment on this. And I'll start out with saying that I love Linday's videos. I've followed her for years. I think she deserves a book and I look forward to reading it.
    Now. This video didn't remotely describe a normal author hustle. More than anything, it comes across as an attempt to prove that you're a real author and that you worked for this. You're more than a "youtuber who wrote a book" – you're the real deal. Thing is – a lot of youtubers who write books are the real deal. It's easier to own the fact that you built a solid platform and got extra opportunities because of it. You've worked at this for years. You're created amazing video essays. You ultimately got this book deal because of that platform, and that's great! Genuinely. You don't need to prove that you're an author who did it the old school way.
    On to some things in this video that seemed off to me.
    First of all, I kept waiting for things to turn around. I kept waiting for a moment of self reflection, of when you'd start working more actively on the craft, on dealing with rejection, of understanding the industry and how to pitch. But that never really happened.
    MOST IMPORTANTLY: a book doesn't have to be polished. At all. If the story is cohesive, the author voice distinct, and the narrative threads are engaging, that's enough. It's always a good idea to clean up embarassing typos and whatnot, but it's overkill to edit a book for months/years. In fact, several of the most accomplished authors in Europe (can't speak to the American market because I don't know many big-name authors there) are dyslexic. The publishers/agents don't give a shit that they have to do serious work to clean up the text, because they look beyond that. Not over-editing is just as important as writing your project from start to finish.
    Now. On to:
    1. The amount of rejections. Most professional authors get rejected like… ten times as much as the rejection letters described in this video. A really basic thing as an author is learning how to handle rejection. You need to know your material enough to expect whether it'll be appealing, or whether it'll get rejected a bunch of times until you find an agent/publisher that the story resonates with. And you need to find the glimmers of hope in rejection; did you get detailed feedback? Did they compliment certain aspects of the book? Ultimately, as long as you consider book rejections personal attacks, writing will be hell.
    2. Pitching is an integral part of being an author. You need to know your text well enough to summarize it and understand its themes. If you don't know how to approach pitching, you can attend workshops (online or offline). There are even workshops with agents where they can tell you what they're looking for. As long as you think of pitching as "impossible", it'll hinder your progress as an author.
    3. Ultimately LE didn't send her books to that many agents. Also, it seems she didn't do research to find specialized agents. For authors with unique book proposals, there's a strength in doing research and finding the agents most skilled in pitching for a certain genre. These agents usually only have submission windows of a few weeks/months per year open to the public. So if you're determined to find the best agent for your book, you wait for those windows and submit.
    If you're not sure how to approach agents there are many writing festivals with agents present, where you can get the experience of speed-pitching, or simply apply your book for feedback.
    4. The focus on being published by a "big publisher". Half the time, a big publisher can be a bad thing. Yes. They have the most money, and their name on the back of your book is bragging rights for the author. But unless you've written an amazingly mainstream story, working with them could actually cause your book to fail. Not every book is meant for a mainstream audience. Sometimes it's worth working with a genre-specilized publishers, since they'll likely have better connections for selling that type of book. You won't get paid as much, but your book will reach the intended audience and thus get a much better reception.
    Finally. Two books in ten years is not a lot of writing. It's obviously a good accomplishment! Don't get me wrong! But for viewers who actually hope to publish books of their own, this is not a journey to mirror their own attempts on. You can only get good at writing through practice. By writing a lot*: short stories, books, scripts, plays, lyrics, articles, fanfiction… whatever gets you inspired to experiment and develop as a creator, go for it. You'll likely have to live through endless rejection; collaborations with publishers who don't pay you; meetings that *almost lead to an amazing deal but fall through in the end… it's a goddamn struggle. And it's only if you stick through all of that, and you learn of your strengths and weaknesses, and you learn how to navigate the industry, that you'll build a solid foundation that'll allow you to work as an author.
    This video and this journey only scratches the surface of what publishing books will look like for a person without connections and without a huge platform. And that's fine! But to frame it as some kind of real, gritty struggle feels disingenious. At the end of it, LE got a book deal through her platform, and that was well-deserved. In fact, a lot of people with platforms who get book deals absolutely deserved it and absolutely put a lot of work into it. But what LE describes here does not come near what other authors have to go through, and that rubbed me the wrong way.

    December 9, 2019
  9. AnimationFanatic said:

    can you please write the business centaur book

    December 9, 2019
  10. Tracey Grubb said:

    I am excited, Lindsay!! Science fiction is my JAM so I am very thrilled for when it comes out! πŸ™‚

    December 9, 2019
  11. Kinda MCR said:

    thank you for this video genuinely i had zero clue how any of this worked

    December 9, 2019
  12. Sebastian Rochefort said:

    Congrats on the book 😁

    December 9, 2019
  13. shatterjack said:

    I wanna read about businesscentaur

    December 9, 2019
  14. the cold sunday said:

    Im 17 and finished the second draft of a 140k word gay werewolf book so yes i think i will become a successful author

    December 9, 2019
  15. AnimationFanatic said:

    well as long as your book doesnΒ΄t have anyoneloosing to a bird

    December 9, 2019
  16. William Blake Hall said:

    "Something something follow your dreams." Got it!

    December 9, 2019
  17. javierortiz82 said:

    I'm really happy for you that you finally get to release your passion project, hopefully I'll be able to catch a copy and give it a read. You've grown so much since the fabled days of tgwtg. Congratulations.
    BTW, the decade ends on 12/31/2020, there are many interesting articles about the subject around the web.

    December 9, 2019
  18. Clara Ross said:

    I'm so pumped for this. And I love that I've pre-ordered it in JUST enough time to forget about it and then be re-pumped when it arrives as a huge surprise.

    December 9, 2019
  19. Angelica Pickles said:

    You're making fun of yourself for having been deludedly arrogant, but the fact you were that arrogant in the first place is really off-putting.

    December 9, 2019
  20. Jonathan Lawrence said:

    I'm a strictly amateur writer, I do it for fun and to learn new skills, explore ideas etc… etc… I don't think I'd have the nerve for all the rejection, unless I one day come out with that killer idea – which odds are I won't, and I'm okay with that. However, I've watched a lot of stuff on the process of writing through to publishing, and hands down this was possibly the most informative and interesting, honest, and raw take on the subject.

    Thanks, Lindsay, wish you every success with your book, will look out for it when it hits the virtual shelves.

    December 9, 2019
  21. Tycat said:

    That seemed to only encourage me. Thanks for the perspective, and congratulations.

    December 9, 2019
  22. zachisebi said:

    So if the book is done, and I mean ready to be printed tomorrow, why not publish yourself? You got 850000 subs. Let them preorder it and when the preorders hit 10k print them.

    December 9, 2019
  23. Nicholas Morales said:

    I think you have too many shoes!

    December 9, 2019
  24. mike wood said:

    Most naturally i've ever read right to left
    I'm paying attention, i promise

    December 9, 2019
  25. Drink a Beer and Play a Game said:

    Congrats on the book, this was very interesting to see this process

    December 9, 2019
  26. MysticSybil said:

    The statistic that some first time authors sell their novel on proposal. Book deal George, who lives in a basement and publishes under 300 new pseudonyms a day, was an outlier and should not have been counted.

    December 9, 2019
  27. kalyarn said:

    If people get nothing else from this, I hope they would take to heart her description of the length of a query letter: two paragraphs, less then 250 words. Dear god, please please.

    December 9, 2019
  28. Alejandro Moreno said:

    Hhmmm wow

    December 9, 2019
  29. riepocaliptica said:

    So if the blurb you read us isn't what the book is about… what is it about?

    December 9, 2019
  30. rougecommand said:

    Is it weird that the last 3rd of the video I noticed the gundam book on her shelf and just really wanted to know what book that is?

    December 9, 2019
  31. sensate2000 said:

    What does the shirt say?

    December 9, 2019
  32. Stephen Abbott said:

    I'm curious how well skill at reviewing movies translates (or doesn't) to skill at designing characters, plots, etc. Obviously film and novels are very different media, but I assume there are some similarities.

    December 9, 2019
  33. Pastadudde said:

    Her agent is cute

    December 9, 2019
  34. SmallMaracas said:

    Thank you very much for your transparency. It inspires me to put effort and care into my art even in the face of disappointments and lapses.

    December 9, 2019
  35. Have An Ice Day said:

    So, in a way, editors and publishers are much like Hollywood producers: they want to continue cashing out on the thing that's in for as long as they are able to.

    Ps. I studied literature and nobody taught me even half of what I learned with your video. Anyone else studied something that did not prepare you for the real world at all?

    December 9, 2019
  36. Ann Sophie Fans said:

    I am so old-school I'm mostly thinking about PAGAN KENNEDY —- CONFESSIONS OF A MEMORY EATER. How did that turn out, for her?

    December 9, 2019
  37. therandomdot said:

    (Publisher) Your intellectual sci fi with human interest story is not unique enough! … DENIED!
    (also Publisher) Your trashy romance novel is the same drivel other writers have been cranking out for ages… PUBLISHED!

    December 9, 2019
  38. Jade Auburn said:

    Congratulations! And thanks for the transparency!

    December 9, 2019
  39. Jennifer Thimell said:

    It should be shameless. There's no shame is using your space to promote yourself. I mean YouTube will do it for other people if you don't use it for yourself.

    December 9, 2019
  40. Raxis Taicho said:

    Out of curiosity, was length something that came up often? I've read in a few places that debut authors should write shorter material, did any of your agents or editors give you a good ballpark estimate?

    December 9, 2019
  41. Guillermo Jones said:

    I see a few comments about doom and gloom and all – but I knew it would take around a decade to get published. I did not know what to do within that decade! So this video actually made the process less daunting for me.

    December 9, 2019
  42. Jared Maples said:

    pre-ordered! πŸ™‚

    December 9, 2019
  43. ktownshutdown21 said:

    So have you thought about who you want to star in the inevitable film adaptation?

    December 9, 2019
  44. Apple Fish said:

    I've written two novels and a few short stories. The literary industry is pure hell.

    December 9, 2019
  45. Sarah Reach said:

    I am glad you shared this story, because my very first thought upon hearing your pitch was, "Soooo…. you wrote 'An Absolutely Remarkable Thing?'" Although it seemed unlike you to make a cheap knockoff of a friends work, I am afraid that is the place my mind first went. Then your arduous writing journey made me realize that, no, this is a longtime work of passion that is unique to you. I am excited to preorder this book (as soon as my finances recover from the holidays)

    December 9, 2019
  46. Swiftninja said:

    I like that I can see more of Gundam the origin after the mysterious light change.

    December 9, 2019
  47. Lurath said:

    Thank you for going into the detail here… for an aspiring sci-fi/fantasy writer. Pre-ordered your book for kindle. Hopefully the world doesn’t end before it’s published and I will get a chance to read it!

    December 9, 2019
  48. Kevin Trombly said:

    Oh em freaking gee, is this another Serra Elinsen masterpiece??!!

    Wait a second, I'm so confused… Awoken was published in 2013… I know that was a collaboration and also meant to be rather poor quality, but still, I would imagine THAT would have been your "debut novel." How was that experience (which happened in a matter of months) different from this? Also now I'm very curious what the tiny fix was in Trunk Novel that fixed everything.

    December 9, 2019
  49. Hannah said:

    Sold at American Three Body Problem for girls.

    December 9, 2019
  50. Ann Sophie Fans said:


    December 9, 2019
  51. Starwarsdude8221991 said:

    Despite it all I still want to write story

    December 9, 2019
  52. Hapsetshut said:

    RIP my life's ambitions

    December 9, 2019
  53. Almsee said:

    Hi, does anyone know where I could pre-order to the UK that's not Amazon/Amazon-owned (e.g. Book Depository) ?

    December 9, 2019
  54. fishybusinessclass said:

    Yo! John Scalzi books on the right! Nice!!

    December 9, 2019
  55. dominomasked said:

    I thought I had seen every make-me-scream-involuntarily-at-my-desk-in-baffled-semi-amusement but throwaway image of slash Jesus broke me. Thanks?

    December 9, 2019
  56. Adam Hart said:

    And here I thought you were just busy doing stuff for PBS. Your honest takes on this stuff most of us never even get to hear about is why I love your channel.

    December 9, 2019
  57. mxsxkxcrc said:

    You can tell from the edges of Infinite Jest that she's actually read it. My copy was all the way fucked up by the time I finished it.

    December 9, 2019
  58. Harry Willmore said:

    That bookshelf is too perfectly framed

    December 9, 2019
  59. Quinchilla said:

    Just finished my query and thought this would be a fun watch. Please excuse me as I spiral into depression.

    December 9, 2019
  60. SirWarkwark said:

    Congratulation! I'm proud of you…. in a distant, friendly way… I think….

    December 9, 2019
  61. Matheus de Moura said:

    Non Fiction is pretty difficult, at least in Brazil. Here, if you are not a famous journalist, if you are a recent grad, like I am, people will not trust your material. And so it goes

    December 9, 2019
  62. Pietro Camilo Martins said:

    β€œMy heroes are dead, my enemies are in power” – there is a Brazilian song from 88 called Ideologia with a very similar chorus : β€œMy heroes died of overdose, my enemies are in power”. It was a big wtf moment to hear that in English.

    December 9, 2019
  63. Kairi091 said:


    December 9, 2019
  64. opsimathics said:

    can't stop staring at the book with the gundam in the left

    December 9, 2019
  65. BoneStudios15 said:

    i’m so happy for you Lindsay πŸ™‚

    December 9, 2019
  66. Garrett Fetner said:

    Me watching this video and realizing that your path through college is literally the same thing that I'm currently doing 😳

    December 9, 2019
  67. grg said:

    I don't really follow the "I self publish on YouTube all the time β†’ I don't want to self publish a book" logic at all. Why would you care about all that traditional stuff, distribution of printed copies? Do you want BOOMERS to read your book? πŸ˜€

    December 9, 2019
  68. Lucas Nakamura said:

    21:52 ideologiaaaa, eu quero uma pra viveeeer

    December 9, 2019
  69. Elizabeth Coffman-Mackey said:

    oh hey agents aren't "connecting with my voice" didn't know that was what that meant πŸ™

    December 9, 2019
  70. bd db said:

    Cool, this is slated for release around my birthday. Guess I know what one present to me is gonna be.

    December 9, 2019
  71. Garrett Fetner said:

    Entertainment media and book publishing are my two avenues… You are the perfect YouTuber.

    December 9, 2019
  72. Lex Man said:

    Well I put your book on my Amazon wishlist. I'm sure it's a great place as I've never bought anything off that thing.

    December 9, 2019
  73. Dave said:

    Wow, dusting off my old novel from 4 years ago and giving it a read, only 6 more years and two rewrites to go, plus maybe a successful youtube channel I have yet to start, for marketing purposes… right?

    December 9, 2019
  74. Reece Huff said:

    Pre Ordered! Thank you for inspiring me to get back into the literary world, I honestly can’t remember the last time I read something that wasn’t for school so I can’t wait haha.

    December 9, 2019
  75. Patrick Gillespie said:

    Thanks for this video, Lindsey! I'm an aspiring graphic novel writer, and I didn't realize engaging an agent was even an option, but after watching this video, turns out, yeah! I don't even need art, a completed script will do! Thank you for making aware of this resource!

    December 9, 2019
  76. Geeky_Anomaly said:


    December 9, 2019
  77. Calvin Ramin said:

    Lindsay's tone in this video is me going through all my issues with a new therapist for the fifth time.

    December 9, 2019
  78. Brian Gardner said:

    After watching this video (recommended by iWriterly), I checked out your book description on Amazon. This line sold it for me: "To save her own life, she offers her services as an interpreter to a monster, and the monster accepts." I also could hear YOU saying that out loud in your "Yeah, that's a thing that just fucking happened." voice. Pre-ordered and excited. Good luck and thanks for the inspiration on my own publishing journey.

    December 9, 2019
  79. capitalistraven said:

    Thanks for this Lindsay. I rediscovered you on YouTube years after I first saw you on "the channel that must not be named" (I was a NCritic fan and watched like two of you videos). It's amazing to see how far you've come and the insight you have to offer. In an over saturated market of media criticism your take is always unique, balanced and insightful (perhaps because of your experience "growing up" on the internet). Keep doing what you do and best of luck on your novel!

    December 9, 2019
  80. damnspider said:

    I remember hearing a writer explain that the moment when he was able to look at his own work and see the issues and how to fix them, that's when he started being able to get things published.
    Also, having a platform doesn't always mean guaranteed sales for self-publishing, frequently the audience that consumes free content has very little crossover with the audience that's willing to pay for content.

    December 9, 2019
  81. Reese w said:

    I feel like this might be the worst commercial ever, like I know she wrote a novel, but like watching this made me somehow both make me not want to write a novel and not want to read hers. Like, i like science fiction and i know lindsay can write well, so i should totally want this book. The way she says the adcopy is wrong to the whole decription of how it was created, and the not very pleasant nick names she gave her drafts….

    I'm certain it's probably a good book. That being said, who want to eat a nice bratwurst after seeing a cow get mutilated?

    December 9, 2019
  82. Derek Caelin said:

    I'm writing my first book now and this was super helpful – thank you.

    December 9, 2019
  83. peachy molang said:

    πŸ’–πŸ₯°πŸ’—πŸ’•πŸ˜πŸ’‹ hello everybody πŸ’‹πŸ˜πŸ’•πŸ’—πŸ₯°πŸ’–

    December 9, 2019
  84. PJPF said:

    I had a blog with thoughtful articles of considerable length; no one I knew cared about them (can you notice I used a semicolon? I know how to punctuate, at least). If it was this hard for you considering your media reach through your channel, why on Earth would anyone want to read my Pulitzer nominations on Blogger? I stopped wasting time on it and blocked it and began feeling much better about myself because I no longer had to deal with publishing anxiety and rejection from even my closest ones.

    December 9, 2019
  85. Zee Brewmaster said:

    can't stop thinking about that gundam book

    December 9, 2019
  86. John Turner said:

    You are no social-media lotus eater, you toil in the vineyards and take your penny gladly, so I say Bring It On! Science Fiction needs voices besides the mansplainers and the not-so-crypto fascist mountain men and the smug hacks with Dep in their hair. It's gotten to where if Karl Schroeder wasn't publishing, I wouldn't have had anything to read these past ten years. Bring us a thought worth thinking about! No pressure.

    December 9, 2019
  87. Phil Robichaud said:

    i relate to those shots of you screaming into a pillow a little too much… on the bright side, i like pretty much everything you do so i'll probably give your book a whirl πŸ™‚

    December 9, 2019
  88. Louise Anne Bateman said:

    Many congratulations, Lindsay πŸ™‚

    December 9, 2019
  89. golgariSoul said:

    Oh, hey, I spy a Gundam on that shelf.

    December 9, 2019
  90. FANTAGHIRO said:

    This was around the same time that you was being harassed on Twitter? If so, damn! Your heroes are dead and your enemies are in power indead. All our support for you Lindsay.

    December 9, 2019
  91. lucario719 said:

    Thank you for this video. It really makes my goals a lot more realistic. I still want to write and feel like I can prepare myself for the environment better.

    December 9, 2019
  92. James Ranson said:

    "…writers are not very good at judging the merits of their own work. The truth is, nine times out of ten authors think they are ready to go before they are ready to go." This is the definition of an inconvenient truth. It's also why I have a career as a professional editor. Thanks for speaking to it!

    December 9, 2019
  93. first last said:

    What does "trunk novel" mean the way you're using it? 28:33 What is "Y A"? "Saint Martins gamble"?

    December 9, 2019
  94. Monserrat Gutierrez said:

    "Independence Day meets The Big Short"


    That sounds way more interesting that the Stranger Things thing

    December 9, 2019
  95. Krk Patterson said:

    Please do do a video on what that one thing was – when all the smoke clears? (I’m a writer too.)

    December 9, 2019
  96. Lydia Happy place painting said:

    Lindsay your hard work and determination is truly inspiring. I really hope your book is a success and I can't wait to read it in August. 😁

    December 9, 2019
  97. Bliss Clair said:

    I'm so happy for you and very excited to read your book!
    And this was an extremely helpful video!

    December 9, 2019
  98. Kru lex said:

    Got a GoT seizoen 8 before this video.

    December 9, 2019
  99. whoisbatman said:

    What, no stinger? I sat through the credits for nothing? D:

    December 9, 2019
  100. Lana Lodge said:

    Loved watching this. I'm not interested in publishing anything but as someone with a lot of other ambitious goals I can see how this could really help those going through the process temper their expectations and remain patient and diligent. Like Elizabeth Gilbert says publishing or anything else is all about which shit sandwich you're willing to eat. And if you really love what you're doing it's like "Are you gonna finish that shit sandwich?" Lol thanks for being open and honest. It's really grounding and inspiring to watch and I think I might preorder this. I love how smart you are as a critic and even if you started this years ago and only published it because it was more polished lmao I want to support you and your work and I can't wait to read your work and see you evolve even further as you eat more shit sandwiches πŸ™‚ As a smart person who often has to force herself to do the hard work part I super relate to this too lol

    December 9, 2019

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